Severe fire danger to kick off 2014
Victoria’s firefighters will put New Year's celebrations on hold with fire agencies on high alert as severe fire danger grips much of Victoria on Wednesday, 1 January.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said Total Fire Bans were likely to be declared in the Mallee, Wimmera, Northern Country and North Central districts.
Fire danger is also trending towards severe in the Central district, which includes Melbourne and Geelong, and in the South West - with the possibility TFBs could also be declared in those districts early on Tuesday afternoon.
“Fuel across most of Victoria is dry and ready to burn. The Bureau is forecasting high temperatures and strong winds for Wednesday which means our firefighters are likely to have a busy New Year's Day,” Mr Ferguson said.
He said fires in these conditions had the potential to spread quickly and were difficult for firefighters to control - areas most at risk include north of the Great Divide, Mt Macedon, northern slopes of the Dandenongs, central and western Victoria, and coastal areas.
Official fireworks celebrations, including those in the Melbourne CBD would not be affected.
Mr Ferguson said he wanted all Victorians, particularly those living in, or travelling to, high-risk areas to enjoy a happy and safe New Year by preparing for a fire.
“It’s likely that in many places, bonfires and campfires won’t be allowed after 1am on Wednesday. Any going fire must be completely extinguished and new fires can’t be lit,” he said.
He also reminded Victorians using fireworks is illegal and poses a serious fire hazard and risk to personal safety.
“Every New Year's Eve, our volunteer firefighters are called to fires caused by illegal fireworks. People need to be sensible and recognise the risks, especially with the high fuel-loads around country Victoria. Illegal fireworks not only have the potential to start fires, but to cause serious burns, injure or even kill.”
Mr Ferguson said illegally possessing or using fireworks carried fines of up to $14,000.
He urged all Victorians to stay informed by downloading the new FireReady app, visiting www.emergency.vic.gov.au, listening to emergency broadcasters, monitoring the CFA Facebook and Twitter accounts and calling the Victorian Bushfire Information Line on 1800 240 667.